SEPANG - Spaniard Dani Pedrosa of Honda led a close-fought first day in pre-season MotoGP testing at Malaysia's Sepang circuit on Tuesday, with the three-time championship runner-up still looking for his first world crown.

Pedrosa was top of the timesheet with a fastest lap of 2:01.157, while reigning double champion Jorge Lorenzo of Yamaha was down 0.008 seconds, and Honda's star rookie Marc Marquez of was 0.044 seconds off the pace. Italy's nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, who is back with Yamaha after two disappointing seasons with Ducati, briefly topped the fastest times but ended the day fourth, 0.427 seconds adrift.

The first day of the three-day test got off to a busy start with many of the riders heading straight to the track due to the risk of wet weather. Overnight rain meant a damp track at the start of the day, but the circuit was dry enough for slicks when the green lights were illuminated, and there were no more downpours.

A delighted Pedrosa, 27, said he had been focussed on weight distribution, brakes and ensuring engine longevity, adding that suspension would be the next area of attention. "The track was good and it was cloudy. It was not super hot," he told reporters, adding that his new Spanish team-mate Marquez was "doing well".

Pedrosa, who came second last year, is still in search for his first MotoGP world crown.

Rossi was denied dry track time on his 1000cc Yamaha test debut in Spain in November after reuniting with the team. But he said he was delighted with Tuesday's performance. "For me, today was such a big relief," said the 33-year-old, who has named his first goal for 2013 as getting back on the podium as soon as possible and trying to win a race. "I am already old, I need to put in more effort," he said. Ducati rider Nicky Hayden was in 10th spot while team-mate Andrea Dovizioso who suffered a problem with his neck in testing in Jerez, Spain, in November, was 13th.

The second test session will be held at Sepang from February 26 to 28. The third session will be held in Jerez from March 23 to 25. The opening round of the MotoGP world championship will be in Qatar on April 7. Malaysia will host round 15 on October 13.